Account-Bet Dispute Addressed; Signal Available
by Tom LaMarra
Date Posted: 10/4/2006 3:06:25 PM
Last Updated: 10/6/2006 6:06:30 PM

The Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has indicated Thistledown is authorized to send its signal to Youbet.com, but the California account wagering company has indicated it may not be willing to offer the signal.

In an Oct. 2 release, the Ohio HBPA said it determined Thistledown, a Magna Entertainment Corp.-owned racetrack near Cleveland, wasn't in compliance with the terms and conditions under which the horsemen's group authorized the track to allow Youbet.com to accept wagers on its product. The conditions require Youbet.com to pay source-market fees to Thistledown by the 45th day following the end of the quarter.

The fees for the second quarter of 2006 were due Aug. 15 but not paid, Ohio HBPA executive director Dan Theno said in a release.

Youbet.com and MEC-owned XpressBet have a content agreement that apparently triggered the delay in payment of source-market fees. Youbet.com on Oct. 3 issued a $66,000 check to XpressBet to cover source-market fees for April through August of this year.

The Ohio HBPA said Oct. 6 the source-market fees have been deposited in the horsemen's account. Ohio HBPA board member Bob Reeves issued a release updating the situation.

"Once Youbet was made aware of the situation, they made prompt payment," Reeves said. "Direct communication between the horsemen's groups and all account wagering companies is a necessity, and Youbet has always been willing to listen. We appreciate their prompt attention to this matter and are looking forward to working with them in the future."

The money was deposited by XpressBet, which acts as the settlement agent for Youbet.com. But it remains to be seen whether Youbet.com will accept the Thistledown signal after the flap.

Youbet.com chief executive officer Charles Champion said Oct. 4 the company had been attempting to resolve an alleged underpayment by XpressBet that didn't involve horsemen when the Ohio HBPA issued the press release on its directive to Thistledown to cut off Youbet.com.

"We sent a check to MEC, so there was no question what the money was for," Champion said. "We're not going to take content from people who behave this way. We're not interested in that. It's beyond dangerous and totally irresponsible (to cut off content). They've demonstrated to us they're unstable.

"We're going to be reluctant, if at all, to carry their content."

Horsemen have the right to cut off signals under the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978. In the Oct. 2 release, Reeves, who chairs the National HBPA wagering committee, said: "The collection of purse money earned from account wagering companies has taken on a new importance. On-track wagering is the main contributor to our purses and continues to decline due, in part, to the shift of wagering on track to wagers being placed through account wagering companies such as Youbet and XpressBet."

Reeves said all horsemen's groups "must move quickly to verify that funds due to their purse accounts from these companies are being paid on a timely basis, and the contribution to purses from a wager placed through account wagering companies is comparable to an on-track wager."

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